Ukrainian fab lab manufactures DIY PAPR respirators

Ukrainian fab lab manufactures DIY PAPR respirators to equip healthcare workers.

Garage Hub, a Ukrainian fab lab, invented a do-it-yourself low-cost powered air-purifying respirator responding to the daunting shortage of protective equipment for medics. They’ve started a scaled-up project to help the healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients. Read on to discover their story.

“In Ukraine about 20 per cent of those infected with COVID-19 are healthcare workers. (…) The numbers are this high because healthcare workers are not equipped enough with protective gear,” Garage Hub explain the rationale behind their project.

“PAPR, or a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator is among the world’s most popular ‘protective helmets’. Its use is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s unlikely that you’ve seen medics wearing them in Ukraine – there is no mass production, and 3M, the leading PAPR producer globally, sells them for USD 1.000 per item,” Kharkiv-based engineers proceed.

PAPR. Photo credits:

“We spent three weeks in our Garage Hub workshop to develop a PAPR with production costs below UAH 2.000 (approx. USD 75). It can be both mass-produced (a quicker and cheaper option) and manufactured in workshops like ours,” fab lab inventors explain.

What is Garage Hub? Five years ago three Kharkiv-based physics students assisted by an architect friend set up a workshop in a garage as a space for physics experiments. Over time it grew into a DIY engineering laboratory welcoming all interested. A pioneer in Ukraine, Garage Hub soon scaled up, becoming a renowned social and tech platform.  

How do the DIY respirators work? Garage Hub’spowered air-purifying respirators consist of three main elements: a protective suit (a hood) that covers the head, shoulders and the upper part of the chest; a blower that forces air through the filter; and a breathing tube that connects the two.

Photo credits: garage.hub FB

The blower unit filters the air that is sucked in and pushes it through the tube into the hood. Used air goes down and escapes the suit.   

“Our respirators are battery powered (…), not only do they have a filter and a breathing tube, but there is also airflow and battery indicators. The respirator can be used incessantly for 8-12 hours. As soon as any of the indicators signals, a respirator should be replaced, battery should be recharged or the filter replaced,” Garage Hub explain the technical bits and bobs of their invention.

Photo credits: garage.hub FB

“It costs about UAH 2.000 (approx. USD 75) to produce one PAPR at the workshop. We did not include the cost of work by the engineers,” they proceed. 

Photo credits: garage.hub FB

PAPRs for medics. In the coming weeks Garage Hub plan to produce and donate 132 powered air-purifying respirators to healthcare workers. “We’ll pass 102 PAPRs to the 17 hospitals in Kharkiv region that the Ministry of Healthcare designated as basic to treat coronavirus patients. Thirty more respirators we’ll send to intensive care teams based in other cities including Severodonetsk, Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi,” inventors specify.   

Photo credits: garage.hub FB

Garage Hub have launched a call for donations to support the initiative. The overall need is UAH 264.000 (approx. USD 9.932), as of June 3 over UAH 29.000 (approx. USD 1.091) was collected.

Photo credits: garage.hub FB

Bank account details for donations from abroad are available in the first comment to this Facebook post.




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